International Observe the Moon Night at Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies, clearing around 8:30 p.m., greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory for the 7th Annual International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN), Saturday, October 8th, 2016, 5:00—10:00 p.m. This event was hosted by Western University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) and the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC London Centre).

There were an estimated 300 visitors (including some 100 children) and this includes 288 visitors (including 209 adults and 79 children) counted at the welcome table. However, the occasional rush of visitors and the open door downstairs in the “Period Room” made an exact count impossible.

There were digital slide presentations by faculty members, including Dr. Catherine Neish, “My Favourite Moons” (6:00 p.m.) and Dr. Phil Stooke, “The Voyages of Apollo” (6:30 p.m.). There were activities including (1) observing the Moon through the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and amateur telescopes; (2) a Meteorite Display; (3) Impact Cratering Demonstrations; (4) Eclipse and Moon Phase Activity; (5) Arts and Crafts for children; and (6) the Raffle Draw (which included a Galileoscope and 2 books by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmidt, along with some NASA stickers).

Postdoc Parshati Patel was the event organizer. Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe and undergraduate student Seyedehnastaran Ghafouriansahraei greeted visitors at the welcome table. Dilini switched places a couple of times with graduate student Robin Arnason as telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. Undergraduate student William Hyland was also at the welcome table when not in the “Period Room.” They greeted, provided information and counted visitors throughout the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Dave Clark, Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Peter Jedicke, Dave McCarter, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey. Everett Clark set up the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount) and staff member Henry Leparskas directed it towards the Sun, giving most of the volunteers a view of a very nice prominence. Henry gave general history tours in the dome for the first 2 hours and took photographs and talked with visitors the rest of the evening.

Downstairs in the “Black Room,” CPSX graduate students Christy Caudill and Sarah Simpson conducted the “Impact Cratering Demonstration” and CPSX graduate student Jennifer Newman ran the “Meteorite and Impactite Station,” which included samples of lunar, Martian and other meteorites. CPSX graduate student Elise Harrington and undergraduate student William Hyland were in “Period Room” before Mark Tovey and Tricia Colvin arrived. Mark and Tricia arrived around 7:30 p.m. and gave tours of the historic “Period Room,” which featured the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope. Tricia demonstrated the “Sotellunium.” There were in excess of 50 people who toured the “Period Room.”

Graduate students Robin Arnason and Dilini Subasinghe took turns as telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. They began by showing visitors the communications tower in south London in the late afternoon and—when the clouds cleared away—the first quarter Moon through the 25.4cm refractor, with the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X).

On the roof patio outside the dome Paul Kerans set up his Celestron 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount) and showed visitors views of the lunar terminator on the first quarter Moon and, later, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), using his 21mm Ethos eyepiece (112X). Paul brought his Moon meteorite sample in small plastic display case, placed in a wooden block with a transparent Lexan polycarbonate sheet cover and invited visitors to “walk on the Moon” as they viewed the Moon through his telescope.

Dave Clark set up his Celestron Super C8 (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on the patio’s east side and showed visitors the Moon, using his 32mm eyepiece (63.5X); and the Moon again, along with Saturn and Mars using his 10mm eyepiece (203X). Everett showed visitors the Moon and Mars through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Peter Jedicke and Dave McCarter arrived around 8:30 p.m. and talked to visitors, with Dave fielding questions on the roof patio. Henry Leparskas announced an Iridium flare at 20:12 (8:20 p.m.) high in the southeastern sky, with people crowded on the dome roof patio to see the event.

Everett distributed 20 “Star Finder” planispheres to interested visitors. CTV News was there taking videos in the dome and roof patio. The event was over by around 10:00 p.m. after very enjoyable evening for the visitors observing and learning about the Moon, the Apollo missions, meteorites, impact cratering and the history of the Cronyn Observatory.